hello,i have seen many instructables on what you can do with zippos,but i have not seen a comp-lete guide where the author lists what you should and shouldn't do with a zippo lighter.

please excuse the lack of pictures,but i will post them if i feel they are needed.
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Step 1: The history of the zippo lighter

George G. Blaisdell invented the Zippo lighter in 1932, and got his idea after discovering a large and bulky Austrian made pocket lighter. Blaisdell was an oil engineer who saw a audience for a good looking lighter that would function even in windy conditions. He produced the first Zippo lighter in Bradford, Pennsylvania.he called it the ZIPPO because he liked the sound of the word "ZIPPER"

Zippos are classified as windproof lighters, and are are able to remain lighted in almost any wind situation. They were common in the United States armed forces, particularly in the second world war standard silver Zippo a military zippo lighter was standard gear for all men in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. During that period, all Zippo lighters produced went to the Allied war effort. In fact, during the conflict, since brass was needed for weapon systems, the interiors of zippos were primarily stainless steel. Following the war, Zippo reverted to the traditional brass design.

Additionally, Zippo lighters are known for the lifetime guaranty they carry: if a Zippo breaks down, no matter how old, the company will replace or repair the lighter for free.

Approx. 200,000 Zippo lighters were owned by U.S. military personnel in the Vietnam War. In one instance, a Zippo lighter transported in a shirt pocket blocked a bullet from going in a soldiers body.

these are the facts i have read from various websites. now while i did copy and paste,I ALSO READ THEM AS THOUROUGHLY(spelling?) as possible.I have confirmed their accuracy,but feel free to comment otherwise.

Step 2: Parts of the zippo

look below in the pictures for the listed parts of a zippo lighter.
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tacotaster5 days ago

Post 20th century update: Zippo DOs and DON'Ts.

Do buy a butane insert.

Don't leave with an empty tank.

tacotaster5 days ago

Post 20th century update: Zippo DOs and DON'Ts.

Do buy a butane insert.

Don't leave with an empty tank.

I say this with kindness in my heart... please, please let me fix the typos, grammatical errors, sentence structure & basic spacing. Reading the information was almost unbearable and sometimes unclear, due to the way it was typed. I fear Ur audience cannot properly read the information Ur trying to convey, so then Ur "instructable" misses its objective. Might I suggest for future "instructables", that U try typing the paragraphs in Microsoft Word. Or, another such publishing application where U can utilize the full capabilities of the spelling & grammar checker, as well as the Thesaurus. Then simply copy & paste from Ur final draft. I'm an English major, have proof read for newspapers, written a ga-zillion or so technical & software manuals for small businesses to huge corporations. So, sorry to say, this website almost made my eyes bleed, it is so ruff. U should see all the red ink on my screen... as I made corrections while reading... LMAO!

So much this lol. Guy has good info, but its like he typed it all out on his phone.
jaga069219 days ago

how long can i store the zippo without using.

hey there, i am interested in the zippo lighters. i have just started to look for good lighters, i dont smoke, but i want to have one for any other emergency purposes.

so, i want to know how long can we store the zippo lighter ( filled with fuel ) and if the fuel may vapourise if its not used then, is there any way like using any airtight container, to store the lighter?

just asking out of curiosity about the zippos.

My father has a zippo lighter from Vietnam and the bullet went right through the lighter killing a north Vietnamese solder dead in his tracks!! I'm looking at the lighter right now as we speak! This one did not stop the bullet! The guy that had this one in his shirt pocket is planted in the ground dead! It's a pretty nasty hole right through the center of the lighter and my father assured me the man that was carrying this particular lighter is dead as a door nail! Lol
It's entirely possible that a Zippo could stop a bullet, but that depends on various factors, including range, obstructions prior to the bullet reaching its target, and, most notably, how powerful ththround/gun is. I'm quite certain a Zippo couldn't stop round from an m16 but stopping round from a .22lr is certainly believeable.
I wouldn't keep that lighter if I were you. It belonged to someone that your father killed. When someone is killed under false pretenses (ex. war), the emotions run ramped and the soul is so strongly linked with emotions. That is to say, it is probably quite cursed and will bring you and your bloodline into horrible downfalls. I'm not instructing, I'm warning. Parts of the murdered man's rage could quite possibly be withheld in the lighter. Don't be so proud of something that was a prize for murder. It may already be too late for your soul; eternal hell and suffering may already be bestowed upon you. When you laugh at death, death's sinister grin awaits to be opened to devour your soul.

Wow. People like you are real. I thought that was just some kind of Hollywood thing.

cool story bro

RonB11 month ago

Having rescued a fairly new one via a debt, I'd say its more bout the owners value and not whether it can stop bullets or survive zombie apocalypses :). Being ex-smoker now its more for recreational/household use candles etc.

Came here to confirm the fuel issue of evaporation. Hmm <b>CONFIRMED</b>

bej.smt1 month ago
I am actually not real at all. Hail satan.
Pepelepeuu3 months ago

I'd like someone to please answer me this, how do I stop the lighter fluid from evaporating in zippo and peanut style lighters? I am not a smoker but I do believe in being prepared so recently I purchased and filled a few peanut and zippo lighters to keep in my car/go & get home bags. But after less than two weeks time they have all gone empty with absolutely no use. However the bic that I found on the ground and threw in my bag 5 years ago still lights every time. So could someone please tell me the point of carrying a high maintenance unreliable item for something as important as starting a fire? Or if I'm doing something wrong please advise.

Get about a half inch to 2 inches of road-bicycle inner-tube and slip it over the Zippo, so it covers where the lid meets the body. Makes it very water-resistant too.


Interesting. How long does the fuel last if you do this? I have probably 10 different zippos laying around the house (was a smoker for 20 years, and everyone thought they were a great gift). I would find myself running out of fuel so often, I just quit carrying them all together. Plus, when they are overfilled and leak into your pocket, that mild burning sensation directly next to your neithers is never fun.

I believe Zippo's are intended to be used daily. They're reliable because of their mechanical simplicity and serviceable design. If you're looking for occasional use a disposable sealed butane lighter like you spoke of would be better.

If u need fire, go with Bic. Zippo is just a fancy item. You can always manage with toyota, but people still buys ferarri, right?

You didn't do anything wrong. Its supposed to be like that.

PSPerson3 years ago
I fueled my zippo with charcoal fluid... it has a bit lower flashing point (making it a bit less ready to start) but it still works quite effectively and safely.

No, the flash point is higher. :)

adamshame11 months ago

You can always use Naptha as fuel. You can get a one-quart can at your local hardware store for about 8 bucks. It is the exact same stuff that is sold as "lighter fluid."

You can also use avgas 115/145, but I don't recommend. A fellow worker thought he'd get lighter fuel from the aircraft we worked on, but stopped trying when the first time he used it, he got a one foot flame that singed his eyebrows. We laughed our heads off.

nbarrager4 months ago

so, is it or is it not okay to use ronsonol in your zippo? that part was worded strangely

"Use only genuine Zippo fluid and flints for optimal performance in Zippo lighters. Ronson branded fluid, flints and wicks purchased in the U.S.A., Canada or Mexico can also be used."


The reason Zippo's "Empty Themselves" is the fuel evaporates, this is made worse in the summer, and even more if you put them in your trouser pocket, due to body heat. Try carrying them in a belt pouch or waistcoat pocket.
I have 2 Zippo's both of which are over 15 years old, and I have NEVER had to change the wick's or even fiddle with them. The only times they don't light first time is due to running out of fuel or end of flint.

I have used many Zippos, having been a heavy smoker for about 50 years (down to only a couple of smokes a day now), and have definitely had to strike more than once to light a Zippo. Sometimes it's because the lighter got overfilled & needs to evaporate the excess, and sometimes it was due to the wick getting dirty & needing a bit of stroking with an old toothbrush dipped in alcohol, or even pulled out & the burnt & dirty part cut off. I now suspect that some of this was due to using Ronsonol fluid, which is a slightly different chemical composition. I didn't know this at the time, but have heard since that you should only use Zippo fluid for proper performance.

"Use only genuine Zippo fluid and flints for optimal performance in Zippo lighters. Ronson branded fluid, flints and wicks purchased in the U.S.A., Canada or Mexico can also be used."


so may be Ronsonol isn't the culprit. two sticks a day means you don't have to light your zippo that much. so your wick gets dry, specially in cold weather. this may be the reason.

ian0606952 years ago
the story of a soldiers zippo lighter blocking a bullet is incredibly false. u have to completly not know how guns work to believe that. if a bullets coming at you a thin piece of alluminum isnt gonna stop a bullet, i guarentee that guys either dead or alive and sucessfully made a b.s. story. also in the vietnam war the zippos they used where "mini Zippos" as we know them now, and basically they were a zippo that was cut in half
aonixk ian0606952 months ago

If the bullet was a small rimfire, such as .22 lr or almost any older rimfire (eg. .41 short rimfire) the zippo could have rather easily caught the bullet or redirected it.

you are making the assumption that the bullet came at an absolute perpendicular trajectory. However, if the bullet struck the zippo at an angle, it could potentially ricochet and not harm the soldier. So, it can save a life, but its not body armour.

im sorry in advance if this sounds like im being an ass but im trying my best not to. anyways im not sure you fully understand the ballistics of firearms. in order for a bullet to be even capable of ricocheting off a aluminum you have to be almost directly aligned with the metal. and if your in the engle to where it will ricochet off off aluminum then even if you didnt have the lighter there it wouldnt be a deadly wound. heres a link to a video of a bullet going through an inch thick of solid steel. it doesnt go through but it makes a hell of a dent and thats an INCH thick of SOLID steel. were talking about a thin layer of aluminum.

Zippos were never made of aluminum.

Well my friend, sadly I think it may be you who doesn't completely understand ballistics. Firstly, your video is a bullet going through ballistics gel, not steel plates. Second, those are not your casual 9mm either, those were higher caliber rounds, probably hollow point and armor piercing to see the comparison. Furthermore, its not one flimsy piece of aluminum, its two! and with cotton in between. It can perform as a cushion effect, AT AN ANGLE! so what im saying is that it will most likely NOT protect you from a shot right to your zippo from near point blank, but can potentially defend you from a possible bullet wound caused by a bullet fired at an angle to your lighter. Please get back to me, I'm eager to see where this goes!

The Link*
Okay, I'm coming in late here, but I think I'd like to contribute. Firstly, it was clearly said above that after the Second World War, the material that Zippos are made from was changed from steel to brass. This means that the material trying to block a bullet was two sheets of brass, not aluminium. You're right, aluminium could never block a bullet. Also, in between the brass sheets there is rayon and lighter fluid. Both of these combine to make something roughly equivalent to what's called a dilatant (see link below). Dilatants are basically liquids that, when between two sheets of material, spread and resist movement. This means that, with the combination of the brass and the dilatant lighter fluid, a zippo lighter could potentially block a bullet.

Then again, Mythbusters tried it, and their Zippo failed to block a bullet, so I could be wrong.
Another possibility is that a Zippo lighter (or anything else for instance small bibles etc) prevented a tumbling bullet from penetrating the person. ie. a bullet that has passed through who knows what before hand and lost much of it's energy. Or it may not have been a bullet but a piece of who knows what shrapnel.

The point is that something like the Zippo stopping the bullet situation is completely possible to imagine and that the story would be interesting and memorable!

I will repeat my earlier comment:

It's quite possible that a Zippo would stop a bullet.

in mind that not all bullets fired on the battlefield are high-powered
rifle bullets, and many are "accidental" hits that may have been fired
hundreds, or thousands of yards away, or have ricocheted off a vehicle or other hard object. German officers & sergeants
carried pistols, and many of them (particularly in formerly occupied
countries like France or Belgium) were not standard issue. I have a
rather silly little .32 caliber pistol that my uncle removed from a
Wehrmacht officer in 1944. No chance that bullet would go thru a Zippo,
nor would many larger-bore pistol bullets (like from 9mm Lugers), esp.
if fired from a distance and esp. if they had to also penetrate heavy
winter clothing and/or other pocket debris. The same would hold true
for bullets fired from one of those miserable little Japanese Nambu
pistols -- assuming they even fired at all.

Also, keep in mind
that many battlefield weapons, then and now, were actually rifles or
machine pistols firing pistol-type ammunition (e.g. German machine
pistols or the U.S. "Tommy Gun." Those bullets were very slow and their
speed degraded greatly over distance. Someone who caught a stray one
that was fired a great distance away would suffer a much different,
shallower wound, and a Zippo might well stop that projectile. Bear in
mind that bullet size is far less important that bullet SPEED.

All modern Zippos, such as those used in Vietnam, are made of STEEL, and Zippo has never made an aluminum case. I have a WW2 blackout Zippo carried all through the Marine campaigns in the Pacific, and it's STEEL. A magnet sticks to it just like on my modern ones.

21-year Army Master Sergeant

Former Firearms Dealer & Custom Gun Maker

Competition Shooter, 1964 - 2008

anthonybarbuto11 months ago
Does any one know the Military specification that Zippos come under? Perhaps some one knows the National Stock number? I am experienced at making up survival kits to mil specs. I have never run into a Zippo lighter as part of a kit. Can any collectors help me out here? I see some pretty lame ideas being marketed as survival items, to make fire. I would rather have a $20 Zippo lighter in the field than some of these $200 "sparklers". Appreciate hearing from any Zippo collectors/

Though I am a huge fan of Zippos because of their indestructible nature and ability to light in the wind (essential for riding motorcycles or boating), they are NOT my first choice for the Zombie Apocalypse -- though I'll admit to stockpiling extra gallons of Coleman fuel, dozens of extra wicks & nearly a thousand extra flints, to fuel the dozen or so Zippos I have sitting around.

The fuel evaporates out of those lighters very quickly, so they can't be stored :"ready to use," but only with no fuel, and preferably the flints stored separately. Flints stored for some years in a Zippo will ultimately decompost and turn into a whitish plug that can only be removed from its tube by driving a long thin nail through it or drilling it out. Been threre, done that, and never want to have to do it again.

The most reliable lighter to store is also cheap -- the regular Bic disposable lighter, which can be picked up for about a buck apiece, sometimes less. I've had them sit in a drawer for five or more years and still light on the first try, and the fuel seemed to be "full" compared to a new one. Back when I smoked three packs a day or more, a Bic would last me around a month, often more -- which seems to be about 1800 lights or more. Using one of my Zippos, I'd be refilling it twice a week if I spent much time on my motorcycle or boat. No question in my mind that a Bic will light a lot more campfires or candles than a Zippo.

Those cheap Asian no-name lighters are junk & often fail within a couple of days. I suspect that the Ronson brand of disposable is good, but have never tried one yet.

I now keep about a hundred Bics in a drawer. I may not ever need that many, but figure they are magnificent "trade goods" that will be in high demand when things go badly in the world, just like manual can openers. I also picked up a hundred of the old GI can openers (called P-38's) on eBay, for the same reason. I think they were only 30 cents apiece or less.

As far as I can tell, from many discussions with WW2 vets in my family Zippos were never issued, just sold in vast amounts in every PX or BX, in every theater of war. For much of the war the "blackout" Zippos, with a flat black finish, were either the most popular models, or (unconfirmed) possibly were the only ones available for sale to troops in the PX. The reason (eliminating reflections & shine) is obvious. Same reason most military tools & vehicles were flat-painted, and why camouflage face paint was used.

I have one of the WW2 black Zippos. A lot of the flat black has worn down, and it definitely is a long way from mint condition, but to me it just adds to the charm. They sell high to collectors, but my Dad's Zippo is NOT for sale .... Interesting lighter -- the bottom of this Zippo is not flat, like modern ones, and can't "stand up" by itself. The scuttlebutt was that this was to prevent troops from lighting it & setting it up so they could warm their hands, thereby drawing a sniper's attention.

XOIIO3 years ago
A zippo alone can not possibly stop a bullet. This has been tested. There had to have been protective armor underneath the shirt. The same has been said about an ipod, and that is false too.
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